New DTPHX Dollars $5 voucher program aims to help downtown businesses

by Fara Illich
Business Development Community Deal Featured Fara Illich February 25, 2021

Gary and Denise Bismore opened the first Spoonz Cafe 25 years ago in Boston, and moved to Downtown Phoenix in 2013. Prior the coronavirus pandemic, there were three locations across downtown, and the Bismore’s have since downsized to one. The 101 North building location is open Monday through Friday 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with free delivery. (Photo: Spoonz Cafe)

While some people have returned to the office, downtown residents are starting to come out more, and event life is trickling back in limited capacities – Downtown Phoenix small businesses are still struggling.

“It’s definitely been a struggle — we’re down 60 percent,” said Denise Bismore, owner of Spoonz Cafe. “We went from not being able to hire enough people to having to furlough our entire crew.”

In an effort to spur business and incentivize spending, the Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP) has launched DTPHX Dollars – a $5 voucher program redeemable at a wide variety of downtown restaurants, shops, services and cultural destinations.

Through the sponsorship support of Valley Metro, Katerra, Arizona Center and Quarles & Brady LLP, at least 4,000 vouchers will be directly infused into downtown businesses through the DTPHX Dollars program through April 30 — with the possibility to extend based on sponsorship.

“Small businesses are vital to our distinct street-level experience, and by design, 85 percent of our restaurants are locally owned,” said Devney Preuss, president and CEO of Downtown Phoenix Inc. “They make our downtown neighborhood truly special, and our goal is to help our small businesses continue to weather the storm.”

A downtown staple since 2013, Spoonz Cafe went from three locations prior to the coronavirus pandemic down to one. Denise and Garry Bismore still own and operate the 101 North building location, and saw the voucher program as an opportunity to get the word out about their business, and let customers know “we’re still open and don’t forget about us.”

“We’ve been working with the Downtown Phoenix Partnership and Valley Metro since we started here,” Denise Bismore said. “They are a fabulous resource, they offer great support for the local businesses. Especially as a small business owner, you wear so many hats, you don’t always have time to do the marketing that you should per se, so they’re a great resource to add onto whatever you’re doing.”

Purchases must be made for at least the amount of the voucher to encourage spending over $5, increasing the direct economic benefit to small businesses like Spoonz.

“I think every little bit helps, and the consumer spending generated from one voucher at a time will hopefully add up for our small businesses,” Preuss said.

On Wednesday, March 3, DPP will host the very first DTPHX Dollar Drop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at CityScape Phoenix, handing out $5 vouchers that can be used just like cash (excluding alcohol). Another drop is scheduled for Wednesday, March 17 at Arizona Center, with more to come.

DTPHX Dollars can be used at more than 40 participating businesses, and the first round of vouchers are good through March 31. Only one voucher can be used per customer per visit.

Follow @downtownphoenix to learn how you can get your own DTPHX Dollars.